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Aggression and welfare in a common aquarium fish, the Midas cichlid

By R. G. Oldfield

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Abstract

Many species of fishes are aggressive when placed in small aquaria. Aggression can negatively affect the welfare of those individuals toward whom it is directed. Animals may behave aggressively in order to defend resources such as food, shelter, mates, and offspring. The decision to defend depends on the distribution of resources and on ecological factors such as number of competitors, amount of available space, and amount of habitat complexity. This study tested the effects of these factors on aggression in a common aquarium fish, the Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus). The study found that time spent behaving aggressively was not associated with small-scale differences in group size or available space. Aggression was significantly lower in a large aquarium with a complex habitat. Aquaria of sizes typically used in the companion animal (pet) hobby did not provide optimal welfare for cichlids housed with aggressive conspecifics. The public should be aware that this and similar species require larger aquaria with complex habitat, which elicit more natural behavior.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 14
Issue 4
Pages 340-360
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2011.600664
Language English
Author Address Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.rgo@cwru.edu
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Aquacultural and fisheries
  7. Aquatic organisms
  8. Distribution
  9. Effect
  10. Fish
  11. Group size
  12. Humans
  13. Mammals
  14. Men
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Pets and companion animals
  17. Primates
  18. progeny
  19. vertebrates
  20. Zoo and captive wild animals
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed